Responding to a demand among adult Lego customers, National Instruments this week said it is rolling out the NI Labview Toolkit for Lego Mindstorms NXT. The toolkit, targeted at the version of the well-known Mindstorms toy released last week, enables users to create and download virtual instruments to test the toy robots they build.
Lego representatives said last week that the new software toolkit is too advanced for many kids who play with the toy, but they added that they’ve long known that a high percentage of adults buy and use Mindstorms. When Mindstorms was introduced in 1998, approximately 70% of users were adults. While that number has steadily dropped over the years, adults have nevertheless continued to make up a large population of the toy’s customers. Lego and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) have worked together in the past, and discussion groups called Adult Fans of Lego (AFOL) have popped up on the web. Most recently, a new Mindstorms discussion group has formed on the web called LV-AFOL (LabView Adult Fans of Lego). In that group, users with strong LabView backgrounds help those with Mindstorm knowledge, and vice versa.
“There are many, many engineers who use Mindstroms,” noted Soren Lund, director of Lego Mindstorms in an interview at National Instruments NIWeek. “Many of them work with children as Mindstorms coaches and mentors, and many more just want to toy with our product.”
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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